StarDrone Extreme Review
StarDrone Extreme is a bit like a pinball game in space. The ball in this case is an engineless spaceship at the mercy of inertia - the "drone" in "StarDrone" - and the flippers are small gravity wells that can be turned on and off to capture the drone or slingshot it in a new direction. Your targets are stars and gems that you'll need to hit with the drone to complete levels, and acceleration zones serve the roles of ramps and kickers. In pinball the only danger you face is the ball falling off of the bottom of the table, but in StarDrone Extreme there are missiles, enemy ships, and giant spikes to contend with, not to mention the danger of drifting off into deep space.
If the combination of an arcade game and a physics puzzler sounds appealing to you, then you'll probably have some fun with StarDrone Extreme's sixty levels. The levels fall into three categories, picking up all of the stars, collecting all of the gems and bringing them to a goal, or simply surviving your trek through the level, and most can be completed in under two minutes. On the downside, the difficulty is all over the place. You can run into a level that will take you twenty or more tries to complete that's followed by a string of several levels that you can nail on your first attempt. At first it seems that you can just attribute this to poor design in the level progression, but there's an annoying aspect to StarDrone Extreme that makes you wonder if roller-coaster difficulty is intentional. After you fail a level you're shown a screen asking you if you want to retry the level or skip it. Select "skip level" and you're taken to the PlayStation Store where you'll need to cough up a dollar (OK, ninety-nine cents) for the privilege. Even if you wanted to pay this blackmail fee, you have to be connected at the time to do so. Too bad for you if you happen to be on a plane and can't get passed the Donut of Pain level. (Editor's Note: The game's developer Beatshapers has informed us that they regret charging for the skip feature and are working with Sony to make it available for free).
The game makes good use of the Vita's touch controls - in fact, the entire game can be played with the touch screen alone - and the crisp and colorful graphics really show off the Vita's nice screen. However, the game is consistently inconsistent. Some of the levels are a lot of fun, but you also have to contend with the ones that can be frustratingly hard and require both impeccable timing and a little luck to complete. Most Vita gamers will be happier sticking to the physics puzzlers they can on their smart phones.
Final Rating: 72%. The "Extreme" is for the game's extremely inconsistent level design.